On October 26, 1979, President Park Chung Hee, who had ruled South Korea since a 1961 coup, was assassinated by Kim Jae Kyu, his director of intelligence. The film depicts the events of that night, with a coda about the fate of each conspirator. While Park dines in the Blue House with two associates and two young women, Kim carries out his plot. He talks briefly of bringing democracy; mostly he seems irritated. The other assassins seem without motive beyond following orders. The killings are bloody, the aftermath equally disorderly and haphazard. Can major events of history be so mundane, so nearly comic? Written by
Four minutes of documentary footage in the movie was censored by the courts which claimed that it would confuse viewers who may believe this film is non-fiction. The film-makers opted to leave four minutes of black screen where the scenes were cut. The film has since been shown in its original version at the Pusan International Film Festival. The Supreme Court overruled its previous case, so the filmmakers were able to add the deleted footage. See more »
KCIA Director Kim at one point refers to the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, which occurred three years after the events depicted in the film. See more »
Think of a few movies that are fictionalized versions of major political events: Raid on Entebbe, Reds, or Black Hawk Down. When I put The President's Last Bang in that category, I have to call it comparatively dull. I grew up watching the Billy Jack movies, followed by Mad Max. The oppressors weren't just bullies that abandoned little old ladies by the side of the road. They raped them first, and then through them out of the car. In The Boys From Brazil, the Nazis were unconscionable. Raid on Entebbe had shoot outs, and in Reds, the union sympathizers were badly beaten. I was furious. Not so in The President's Last Bang And on top of all that, I watched this story move forward and out of the blue, the KICA director is suddenly talking to his subordinates about shooting the president. Did I miss something? He didn't have to twist their arm to get compliance. There was no patriotic sentiment, and no pre-meditation. The script was short and required more development. It was not engaging at all. The other elements in the movie were lost to a weakly constructed story. The dolly shots, the billiard close-up, the president's palatial rooms, all were wasted on me for lack of interest. Given the nature of the politics surrounding these events, the director may have had limited access to facts. Nevertheless, in the USA, these types of stories are embellished enough to keep the viewer interested and at least give the tone of a given event, if not the whole truth (which is why I don't watch that much of this type of stuff.) I give it a 6 for craft and an 8.5 for having the guts to make the movie.
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